(semi OT?) Ikea

My wife and I went to Ikea today. I agreed to let her buy a few things off of my to do list; a dresser, shelving, curtains, etc. Things that have been on my list for years, and are no closer to being started now than they were when the list was made. Lately I've gotten to the point where my time is more valuable than my self respect. What, with twin 4 year olds, a newborn, a new job started earlier this year, and a part time teaching gig that just started this week, I feel about as thin as the shavings from my favorite Japanese hand plane. I miss my favorite Japanese hand plane...
I love Ikea. We walked through there like kids in a candy store. We are both trained as architects (small "a", no licenses...), and love good design almost as much as we love to ridicule bad design (really, that's not as arrogant as it sounds...). Ikea is filled with both. Mostly, it's filled with interesting solutions to the problem of Life. I look at unique, pre-packaged furniture, and see a bright office filled with Designers, pouring all of their creative energies into the Everyday. Spending endless hours redrawing details in an attempt to maximize aesthetics, ergonimics, and efficiency.
I'd bet that they have never even touched their own creations. If they did I'm sure these Designers would be disgusted by the flimsy pressboard doors, the sloppy fit of the prefab drawer sides. It's a stark contrast between attention to detail and inattention to material.
I see the throngs of people pushing carts stacked full of prepackaged uniqueness, patiently debating with their significant other over the merits of an unfinished pinewood shelf, vs. a laminated paper shelf, vs. an exposed edge plywood shelf. Most visitors seem to appreciate the design work and the established prices, even as my wife and I discuss quality control or cost-to-build for each item. Even the children are enthralled by the experience, gleefully jumping on an endless row of mattresses or hiding in the thin cloth of the curtain display.
We walked the meandering aisles of Ikea for nearly 4 hours, emerging from the sensory deprivation of the Big Box shortly after dark, and well past dinnertime. We quickly loaded our loot into the back of The Big Red Minivan, grabbed some fast food, and headed for home. All told, we spent $16.22 at Ikea today. We got a pair of plastic storage bins that just happen to fit perfectly in the kids' toy storage shelving unit that I built last year, and a few throw pillows that were on sale. That doesn't count 2 cups of coffee, 2 chocolate milk cartons, 1 piece of chocolate cake, and 1 ice cream cone shared by 4 of us. (The newborn opted out of all of the treats, but did enjoy a few ounces from the ol' bottle.)
Having left for the store with the best intentions of making my life easier, we have somehow added a few new ideas to my to do list. My wife has kindly offered to review the list, to help me re-prioritize my assigned tasks. She has even offered to minimize complaints if I were to actually spend some time in the shop. Now that the twins are old enough to "help daddy" in the shop (they know the difference between flat head and phillips, hammer and mallet, dovetail and finger joint, and many other tools and terms that make a father proud), all I would be missing is the pleasant conversation with my wife and the excited but clumsy smile of our newborn.
Sometimes, I miss the sense of accomplishment that comes with a finished project. Sometimes, I resent the sense of urgency that comes from an oversized to do list. Sometimes, I feel too schizophrenic to know what to do next. And sometimes, I try to look around as a simple observer, to absorb what I can, and try not to worry about what else I'm supposed to be doing. Like sleeping; right now I'm supposed to be sleeping.
-MJ http://www.mjhkstudios.com/woodwork/Frameset.htm
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In suppport of Ikea: We have quite a bit of Billy bookcases (oak style). With and without glass doors. They see a lot of use. Some are holding our dinnerware in the dining room. I can really recommend them for a cost- effective solutions.
We also have desks that were originally I think Effektiv, but I can't find them anymore. Very heavy duty, pressboard but nicely beech veneered. With a whole set of bookcases and drawer units.
We also have flimsy night table 3-drawer sets that I can't recommend, certainly not in the bigger sizes, where everything seems to come apart.
As with everything, you get what you pay for, and buyer beware. Oh yeah, we have a number of Ikea's torchiere-like standing lamps, from $6.95 to $60. They are just fine for us, especially the cheapest "NOT" lamps, really they are.
--
Best regards
Han
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Ditto. Only in the home office/library holding books, etc.
We have no IKEA here. But a few years ago on a trip to see my sister, we stopped at IKEA at the insistence of my better half. I have never been to another IKEA, but the one in Houston is huge, and it was packed.
It seemed to be part McDonald's, and part Pier One. It was a strange mix of nice looking stuff, and furniture and accessories that looked like they belonged in a one of those rent to own stores.
But I did find something that was a huge bargain. They had unfinished birch (just a guess here on that - it was some kind of white Euro wood) that was laminated into table tops. The laminate pieces were about 2" across, and about 1 1/4" thick, and overall the dimensions were about 36" X 50".
While inside, we had seen a corner desk that had been deemed perfect for one of the rooms as it tucked into the corner and it had a rounded section on a short leaf that allowed it to fit into the corner, like an "L", with the inside of the L being curved.
The table tops were on closeout for $60. I couldn't buy the wood for that.I started looking at them and they were rough and gnarly looking, with no straight grain anywhere, which it was explained to me why they were on clearance. But they were laminated together well, and they were pretty straight, too.
Perfect for a wood guy, right? I bought three tops, and undermount keyboard holder, and some powder coated steel legs there.
I took the nastiest of the tops aside, and then matched up as closely as possible the next nastiest one and cut a curve into the top so I would have my L shape.
I sanded the tops for about 10 hours or so to get them where I wanted them, then applied an oil based primer/sealer. It lit them up like you wouldn't believe, with curling ribbons of fiery wood grain two inches wide going all directions.
It has been a favorite piece of furniture because it is solid wood, the top finished out so well, and because it works so well. Odd to me that he design inspiration came from IKEA as well as the materials, just not the way they intended.
The best thing about the whole thing to me was that I didn't have to prep the strips and laminate them to make the tops. And at $60 for the top, I couldn't buy the the material for that.
Robert
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Ours is almost within walking distance, at Rt4 and 17 in North Jersey. Another one is near Newark Airport <grin>.
--
Best regards
Han
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Same, same. Reminds of the $120 teak porch rockers from Sam's. I have 3 of them ... can't buy the wood for what I paid for them.
BTW .. great thread, a real treat when it happens that the participants actually know how to use the language!
The OP, Mark, is quite a writer. His post was an enjoyable read, and vivid enough in description to open your mind's eye and just 'see' his family at Ikea licking away on that cone. :)
--
www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 8/18/08
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wrote

I am partial to the ginger cookies, whatever they are called. I can't get them home, they're gone before I stop the car.
--
Best regards
Han
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wrote

I don't know about those, but the double chocolate crisp cookies are dangerous! They come three in a package and remind me of an old Paula Poundstone bit, which I'll have to quote partially from memory: "Ever want to have a pop tart as a snack, and open up the pack only to find that there are two in there? You can't not eat the second one, because it'll go bad if you just leave it, so you eat it too. But by that point, it's not a snack, it's more like a meal, so you might as well open up the second silver pack in the box. So you eat those and by that time, there's just the one lonely pack in the box, and you don't want it to be all alone, so you go ahead and eat it just to tidy up.".
todd
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I think (after consulting with authority) that the ones I mean are called Anna's ginger thins: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fynes/2355457340 /
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Best regards
Han
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Mark Johnson wrote:

I hit the IKEA store in Cinci yesterday. I had the same symptoms. I think that I am grateful that my Father's Second Cousin's Uncle declined his business partner's offer to be the Chief Financial Officer for IKEA back when it was being formed in Sweden. He felt that the offerings were junk. Go figure....
Dave N
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We have several of the Billy bookcases in the maroon/mahogony finish. We also got a huge desktop in the same finish - like 40 x 70. I was bummed when they discontinued that finish in favor of a muddy nut brown..
I love my 2 poang chairs with the fabric cushions. My wife made slip covers when we saw what it would cost to replace the stained pads. I fed my son his bottle twice nightly on that chair for quite a while - it doesn't owe us anything.
We actually go the the Elizabeth IKEA to buy the bags of frozen swedish meal balls and the packages of the gravy/sauce.
It's something to do on a rainy weekend when we have nothing else going on.
Cheer
Jim
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In article

We found IVAR indispensable when our children were at university. Easy to transport and set up, versatile and easily adaptable to fit whatever room they found themselves in.
I don't know how it is in the 'States but in the UK kids normally choose a university a couple of hundred miles away from home. The university usually provide accommodation for the first year, in a room in "hall of residence" (sometimes on but often off campus) and then they go off and rent a flat or house with friends for subsequent years. Sometimes, depending on university or hall, they have to bring all their stuff home at the end of each term because the university use the accommodation for conferences and such.
Ikea also provided the top for the new workbench I'm currently building - Pronomen in Beech. It sits on 18mm ply, giving an effective thickness of 46mm (1.8") on a substantial wooden frame.
Stuart
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Stuart Winsor

For Barn dances and folk evenings in the Coventry and Warwickshire area
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